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Publication Spotlight: Work Package 5

The latest CanGene-CanVar publication comes from Work Package 5: "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) in genomic variant interpretation: An innovative education strategy for the growing genetic counselor workforce” by Beth Coad, Katherine Joekes, Alicja Rudnicka, Amy Frost, Katrina Tatton-Brown and Katie Snape.


A highly trained specialist workforce is needed due to the growth in genomic testing in healthcare. Genetic Counselors form a core part of the clinical genomics multidisciplinary team and represent a growing workforce participating in variant interpretation from data analysis to the patient consultation. Standardised, high-quality variant interpretation training for Genetic Counselors has historically been ad hoc and variable, with existing programs lacking capacity to reach the entire workforce. To address the requirement for scalable variant interpretation training for genomics healthcare professionals, two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were developed within this study.

Within this study, they analysed the data from 17 Genetic Counselors, as part of an evaluation cohort completing the first run of these MOOCs. Overall, Genetic Counselors enjoyed the courses, felt they were clinically relevant and would recommend them to colleagues. Common challenges amongst the genetic counselling workforces included utilising relevant databases and finding time in the workday to complete training. These findings suggest MOOCs could be an acceptable option to ensure a consistent and transferable high standard of training, complimentary to existing curricula. They also hold the potential to facilitate large-scale education to update the genetic counselling workforce when changes in variant interpretation guidance occur.

Read the full paper here.


Written by Ruth McCarthy, Research Administrator at the Institute of Cancer Research.


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